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POV: you have some of the cleanest and most beautiful mountain roads you've ever seen, a Mercedes-Benz CLE of course, but with the Affalterbach logo prominently displayed. It is sunny and the temperature is ideal, even at altitude.

In Tenerife, I put the CLE AMG 53 4Matic+, a coupé with a 3-litre, 6-cylinder, 449 PS turbo petrol engine under the bonnet, through its paces.

Here's what it looks like and how it goes on the road.

Exterior | Interior | Driving | Trivia | Prices

Mercedes CLE 53 AMG: the exterior

At first glance very little changes, but at the end of the day it is the details that make the difference. The long bonnet, the sloping windscreen, the cabin shifted towards the rear, but then there are the side skirts, the oversized air intakes, the track 58 mm wider at the front and 75 mm wider at the rear, 19 or 20-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 5S tyres.

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

And then there are those twin exhaust tailpipes - real and with a prominent exit. Not bad stuff given today's times.

It doesn't end there though because, if you want, you can choose the AMG Optics package that offers additional front and rear splitters, as well as a ore pronounced spoiler and diffuser.

In short, the CLE retains its inherent elegance of a classy coupé, but without sacrificing those touches that Affalterbach knows how to give.

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

Mercedes CLE 53 AMG: the interior

If it is 'refined' on the outside, the change inside is even more pronounced. Leather sports seats with contrast stitching, as well as seat belts and carbon trim, make the CLE more aggressive.

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test
Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

What is pleasing is the dashboard that shows carbon, but above all the little knobs that allow you to select the available driving modes, and the management of the little wheel on the left side of the steering wheel, with different ways of selecting the various items that recall the steering wheels of even sportier cars.

The whole thing is decidedly pleasant, as is the infotainment system, which is also available with active telemetry.

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

Mercedes CLE 53 AMG: the drive

Reading the 'AMG' effigy on a Mercedes car only conceptually translates into one response: elevating driving pleasure, and this Mercedes CLE 53 is by no means an exception. 

The reason is simple. In Affalterbach, the engineers have put their hand to a design that was already good and balanced in terms of vehicle dynamics, with established goals that we had already seen on the Cabrio and Coupé. Now, however, it gets more fun. 

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

The engine, the 3-litre inline six-cylinder capable of delivering 450 PS - plus another 23 PS thanks to another 48-volt electric supercharger offering another 200 Nm of torque - sounds really good, harmonious and involving. Of course, we are not talking about a V8, but if passion and pleasure are to be spoken of, it must also be through sound. 

The CLE 53 AMG, however, can be described quite simply: it retains and enhances its characteristic traits that are the product of CLE DNA. The engine pulls, and not a little, considering the work done on the exhaust valves and combustion chamber. It has nice thrust from the lowest revs, with lots of elasticity and a progression that is always controllable and manageable. 

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

I find myself in the beautiful mountain bends of Tenerife - I recommend a trip there - in 'Race' mode, so as to make the most of this car's potential. The fine work on the electronics and trim control is evident. Mind you, I am not 'simply' talking about the 'basic' damping control system. No, the German engineers have worked on the chassis response to make it sportier. The steering is now more direct and precise, and also offers more load. 

What remains virtually unchanged - on a slightly negative note - is the gearbox calibration, which still retains the original sin of being a little too slow to handle the electric motor as well. 

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

I really appreciated the response of the accelerator pedal in terms of load and feedback. You always know perfectly how much power you are imparting to the vehicle. The brake pedal feedback has also improved, although it still retains a very slight aftertaste of 'sponginess'. It is, however, a really pleasant car to drive. It takes corners very well, without inertia, and then it holds the line perfectly. 

Similarly, even when you go wide coming out of a corner, it's on a track. This is also thanks to the tyres, of course. Sending it into crisis is no mean feat.

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

All within a concept that - as has been said from the outset - remains consistent. The CLE is a balanced car that tends towards comfortable driving. Those who want even more evolved performance will perhaps aim for something else, but those with a passion for fast driving, but without exaggerated peaks, or perhaps looking for a car that is 'returning' to the world of performance after a break, will be able to evaluate this AMG declination absolutely positively.

Mercedes CLE 53 AMG: curiosity

Mercedes CLE AMG 4Matic, the test

Pointing out a curiosity with such a car can become an exercise in style. Yet the Mercedes CLE AMG has a curious element to its credit, which I mentioned earlier: telemetry.

It is something that, for a fan of performance, racing and data analysis, is extremely fascinating. It is available in the infotainment monitor. You can evaluate the amount of acceleration, the amount of braking and the steering wheel angle. 

Mercedes CLE 53 AMG: prices

The new Mercedes CLE starts at £73,075 for the CLE 53 4MATIC+ AMG Premium Coupé in the UK and £78,825 for the Night Edition Premium Plus Coupé.

Gallery: Mercedes CLE 53 AMG 4Matic+, the test